Agenda for Change for Staff transferred out of the NHS to Community & Voluntary Sector Providers

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2006 Health Care Service Group Conference
25 April 2006

Conference notes the success of negotiations with the Department of Health and private contractors to secure an agreement by which staff transferred from the NHS to major private contractors will become subject to Agenda for Change terms and conditions over the next two years. This agreement, when fully implemented, will end of most of the injustices of the two-tier workforce across much of the NHS.

Conference further notes however that large numbers of staff have transferred out of the NHS to community and/ or voluntary sector rather than private sector employers, most commonly in learning disability services, and that these staff are not subject to this agreement.

Conference recognises that the weakness of current interpretations of TUPE with respect to improvements in terms and conditions (rather than just protection of current ones) has left large numbers of union members, who in some cases worked for the NHS until just a few months before the introduction of Agenda for Change, stuck on old terms and conditions – some of them on Trust contracts that were inferior to Whitley. These members are to be found in most community and mental health branches of the union.

Conference acknowledges that the fragmented nature of the community & voluntary sector provision makes agreement with all employers far more difficult than the agreement with major private contractors was, and that a number of branches are already in negotiations or preliminary discussions with voluntary sector employers about adoption of all or part of Agenda for Change.

However Conference notes the work currently being carried out by the Scottish TUC/Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations Partnership Forum which is using the Scottish Executive/STUC PFI/PPP Protocol to ensure that there are not ‘less favourable’ pay and conditions in the voluntary sector for services which have been transferred from the NHS.

Conference believes that the funding of improved terms and conditions will remain a barrier to individual voluntary sector employers adopting Agenda for Change terms and conditions unless a national framework for drawing down funding for employer by employer agreements from PCT and social services commissioners of services is achieved.

Conference calls upon the Service Group Executive to adopt as a key objective the securing of Agenda for Change terms and conditions for all staff groups transferred out of the NHS.

Conference further calls for the SGE to seek, in consultation with the Local Government Service Group, an agreement with the Department of Health for the Community and Voluntary Sector which broadly replicates that reached for staff transferred to private contractors. The terms of any such agreement must allow for funding to be released to enable such an agreement to be properly implemented.